A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Sunday, January 29, 2006



* Music
- Current obsession : I Mother Earth's album
- RIP The Tea Party

* Canada (brief)

* An analysis of the left in Australia and what is needed.

I have been listening way too much to I Mother Earth's 2003 album "Quicksilver Meat Dream". They're a highly underrated band that deserve far more recognition than they've got. For those Tool fans like me, check out "God Rocket" and "Hell and Malfunction". For more commercial types, check out "Like The Sun" and "No Coma" and "Soft Bomb Salad". For more hard-rock-headbanger types, try "Choke". There's something for everyone! Try it out and see! Also don't ignore their earlier albums, particularly "Dig". The songs "All Awake" and "One More Astronaut" are worthwhile too.

In sad news, Tea Party, one of my favourite bands, have disbanded (thanks Kenny for the heads-up). My personal opinion - the band tried too hard to go commercial at the bequest of the major labels when it was set up to be a creative, eclectic mishmash of Eastern and Western sounds heavily inspired by Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and even Jeff Buckley (listen to "Correspondences"). Splendor Solis (1993) and Edges of Twilight (1995) remain among my pantheon of greatest albums of all time by any artist. The last album, "Seven Circles", however, was utterly underwhelming. This is far from the first time this has happened to a good band - Stabbing Westward and Our Lady Peace both fell victim to the same, then split after their experiment.

I first saw Tea Party acoustic and live at UWA in 1998 when a friend literally dragged me along to see this band who I'd only heard one industrial-ish song by (Babylon) and was blown away and became a fan immediately. They played without amplification to a room of about 60. I then saw them live at Big Day Out in 2002, and later that year at Metropolis City in their own show in what was probably the best concert I've ever witnessed (although Tool 2002 and Massive Attack 2003 were close contenders). I'm glad I got to see their final Perth show in November 2004 up at Belvoir. I had a ticket but almost wasn't going to go after having to walk home from said venue two nights earlier at the PJ Harvey concert, and having heard "Seven Circles". My parents talked me into going and I didn't regret it for a minute.

Their frontman, Jeff Martin, is producing an album "Exile and the Kingdom" which is due in March or April - I can't wait. He is at the peak of his creativity, has finally found peace in his own life with his new wife and child, and seeing him live and acoustic in Fremantle in February last year, I think he has captured a lot of what I liked about the band to begin with.

Unusual for me to write so much about a band breakup, but they are one of just two bands that has managed to completely blow me away ever.

The Conservatives won the Canadian election, but it's not all bad - their progressive left party nearly doubled its parliamentary representation, and Canada seems to have basically voted for no change, but to change the dominant party and prime minister (they've been given a minority and can't govern without parties further to the left). I'll leave the analysis to an actual Canadian. :)

The left in Australia

There could not be a better time for the left in Australia than now. Yet the left has been languishing in a state of disrepair for some time. Let's view the contenders:

* The activists are seen by the media as a sideshow and by most as removed from reality. It's sad as they pursue some very good causes, but it's not armed clashes outside the WTO or the Forbes Group that change people's minds, it's a good argument which involves people rather than confuses them. Any of the major left publications are either unintelligible to anyone outside their idiom or are so far removed from the reality of life of Australian working people that they get scorned more than praised for their hard work (and they do work hard, there's no doubt about it).

* The broader left movement is mired in factionalism and sectarianism and is obsessed with a bunch of crazy Russians who roamed the earth about 90 years ago. Hell, they even argue over which crazy Russian they support, and whether people are true supporters of said individual or not. (The term "revisionist" is a favourite.) The same denounce me as a traitor because I'm a pragmatist rather than a polemicist (what the hell is that anyway? :))

* The Greens have the basic problem that their structure was created out of quite an odd base. They are in a bizarre position - every other country has a left party - Canada's NDP is probably the most successful of these. But the Greens started as an environment party and are now trying to be a broad left party. As a result they claim to speak for working Australians yet their support revolves around people attending $50 a head functions or going off to Margaret River (one of the four places in WA where they have serious electoral support) for weekends. Their grassroots organisation is scary (angry white-hair brigade who know what they hate but not what they want) and disorganised. As someone said about the Canadian Greens, "they have a monopoly on ski resorts" - except here it's Byron Bay/Mullumbimby/Nimbin, Mount Nebo, Hobart, Newtown, North Melbourne, West End (Brisbane), Daylesford, Semaphore, Margaret River, Denmark, Fremantle and Northbridge. And apart from Nimbin and Mount Nebo, they've never won even those places outright. In working-class Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane they struggle for 3% of the vote.

* The Labor left, by far the most successful electorally, has no real sphere of influence. The caucus situation has seen it lose its influence within most state parties and it is at best marginal in the federal, hence depriving it of the ability to challenge the Liberals on anything but the Liberals' home ground. Labor even voted in 2004 for a ban on gay marriage - despite opposition from its left, those individuals still voted for it. I'm reliably informed that those within it are frustrated by being continually undermined by their right-wing colleagues but don't see themselves as having any choice. That is to say, by voting Labor you vote in someone who continually gets outvoted in caucus and has to vote with them anyway.

Australians are being sold short on alternatives. We need to find something *else* and make it work, provide it with the leadership, the vision and the direction to turn it into a viable political force, and avoid the mistakes of others in allowing base to become too narrow, principles to become compromised or invaders from the loony left to destroy said alternative. Either that, or the Labor Party itself has to revitalise as a democratic force for progressive politics and stop trying to fight the middle ground. I'm still thinking on this one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Latest news. Viagra, cialis


9:19 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home